Sotalol - a beta-blocker Sotacor
Sotalol belongs to the group of medicines known as beta-blockers. It is prescribed to treat fast irregular heartbeats.
Treatment is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly.
The most common side-effects are feeling tired, unwanted heart rhythm changes, and feeling short of breath.
|Type of medicine||A beta-adrenoceptor blocking medicine (often referred to as a beta-blocker)|
|Used for||Fast irregular heartbeats|
Your heartbeat is regulated by special tissues within your heart which conduct electric impulses. Fast irregular heartbeats can be caused by these tissues conducting impulses too quickly or too erratically.
Sotalol belongs to the group of medicines referred to as beta-blockers. It is a medicine which works on the heart and blood vessels. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called beta-adrenergic receptors) where messages sent by some nerves are received by your heart and blood vessels. As a result, your heart beats more slowly, and this helps to prevent abnormally fast heart rhythms, called tachyarrhythmias.
Before taking sotalol
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking sotalol it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have asthma or any other breathing difficulties.
- If you have diarrhoea.
- If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have diabetes (diabetes mellitus).
- If you have a skin problem called psoriasis.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
- If you have been told you have heart failure, heart block, sick sinus syndrome, or any other heart condition.
- If you have been told you have chest pain caused by spasms of your heart's blood vessels, called Prinzmetal's angina.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other kind of severe allergic reaction.
How to take sotalol
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about sotalol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Take sotalol exactly as your doctor tells you to. You may be started on just one tablet a day to begin with. Once your body has adjusted to the new medicine, it is usual to take two doses a day (morning and evening). Your doctor will gradually increase the strength of the tablets until you are on a dose which best suits your condition. You will be told what dose is right for you, and the directions for taking the tablets will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you.
- You can take sotalol either with or without food, but try to take your doses at the same time(s) of day each day as this will help you to remember to take it regularly. The tablets are best swallowed with a drink of water.
- Sotalol tablets are available in several different strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg and 200 mg. Each time you collect a fresh supply of tablets, it's a good idea to check the strength on the packet to make sure they are the strength you are expecting.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose and take the next dose as normal). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor will want to check your heartbeat regularly, and you will also need to have some blood tests.
- Your doctor is likely to give you dietary and lifestyle advice about eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking a little regular exercise. If so, it is important that you follow the advice you are given.
- Treatment with sotalol is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about drinking while you are on sotalol. It may not be advisable for you.
- If you have diabetes, sotalol can block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will advise you about this.
- If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, it is important to tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking a beta-blocker. This is particularly important if you are likely to be given an anaesthetic.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with sotalol. Some medicines may not be (including some antihistamines, anti-inflammatory painkillers, and cold or flu remedies).
Can sotalol cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects, although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with sotalol. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common sotalol side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling tired, dizzy, sleepy, weak, or light-headed||Do not drive and do not use tools or machines while affected|
|Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting), tummy (abdominal) discomfort, diarrhoea, indigestion, wind||Stick to simple foods|
|Headache||Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, speak with your doctor|
|Other side-effects include: slow heartbeat and other heart rhythm problems, feeling short of breath, chest pain, rash, muscle cramps, difficulties sleeping, changes in mood, sexual problems, an altered sense of taste, and disturbances to hearing or vision||Speak with your doctor if any become troublesome|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store sotalol
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Sotacor® 80 mg tablets; Neon Healthcare Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2021.
Medicines Complete BNF 85th Edition; British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.